Friday, September 21, 2007

lost in Austen


I have just made my very first purchase from Amazon (bear in mind that I do not live in the States and in so doing regulate your astonishment), which arrived today, O excitement of excitements! I saw this book talked about on the fantastic Austen fansite Tilneys and Trapdoors, and immediately knew I had to have it, whatever the cost (within reason, I suppose). To my delight, even with postage this was very reasonably priced, and I got stuck into it as soon as it arrived.

Lost in Austen: Create your own Jane Austen Adventure, by Emma Campbell Webster. This is a lot like those great Create Your Own Adventure books that I used to read at age ten, but obviously written for psycho, immature Austen fans such as myself. You can follow through with the major Pride and Prejudice storyline, or pick little offshoots which may introduce Elizabeth Bennet to Mr Knightley of Emma or other Austen characters, or which introduce an alternate ending to P&P. On the way, you collect points for Intelligence, Confidence and Fortune, and also Connections (both Superior and Inferior), Accomplishments and Failings. Depending on how many you get, this may affect your ability in the end to make a happy and successful marriage.

Emma Campbell Webster does a great job at paraphrasing Austen in second person, and it is written and developed with tongue firmly in cheek, not trying too hard to sound nineteenth century all the time (as this is obviously written for a twenty-first century audience) but also maintaining the feel of the narrative and of Jane Austen's spirit. There are no ghastly mistakes that make me grit my teeth and wonder if she's read the original more than twice. Some of the alternate endings are hilarious, although I haven't read them all yet, with the result that you don't actually mind dying alone in abject poverty because it's really funny. She has also managed to get Jasper Fforde to endorse the book, which I think is fantastic, as he has done some really creative and amusing fiddling with Austen and literature in general.

This book is so much fun. I highly recommend it. This will be on my list of official government-sanctioned books when I am a tyrannical dictator.

9 comments:

Sarakastic said...

Don't hate me, but I'm not that much of an Austen fan. I don't hate her or anything, it's just that her world reminds me way too much of 21st century Utah. The point is that even I am going to buy this book because of your enthusiastic review

slskenyon said...

That sounds like a fabulous read--really. What a creative concept.

LEstes65 said...

I'm not the Austen fanatic that many of our blogger pals tend to be. But I was reading this thinking, that actually sounds fun!

And you also made me think that I will run out to rent an Austen movie for tonight. I need something fun and lovely to watch.

Lost in Austen said...

Hello and thank you so much for both your message and your very kind review of my book. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. It's wonderful to know that it's made it over to New Zealand! I was there for the first time earlier this year and loved it. It reminded me a little of Scotland which is where most of my family live these days. Anyway, thanks again for getting in touch. All the best, Emma.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Excellent review--thanks so much. It's going on my list!

Stacy said...

I saw that book at Borders once. It was one of the staff recommendations, I think.

e. said...

Hmm, being from Salt Lake City myself, I'm going to have to resent sarakastic's Utah comment but rejoice in the review of this book. I've been hemming and hawing over it and now I suppose I'll just have to read it.

Beck said...

WOW! She commented! That's neat.
And I'm really enjoying my copy, too.

Ruth said...

Hi. I've just "happened" across your blog. I own this book too and find it an absolute delight. Greetings from a fellow Austen enthusiast. I have found a great way of sharing my love for JA through the Jane Austen Society of Australia. As NZ residents we can belong to that grouping and be part of all the news and views provided by those of like mind. Go to www.jasa.net.au if you are interested! My contact details for Kiwis wondering about JASA is supplied at the website. Yours in Janeite fellowship, Ruth.